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Another kind of ‘enemy within?’

After posting that gem of a tidbit about Mikael Samuelsson's locker room clean-out day comments, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reiterated Ken Holland's comments about not buying out Johan Franzen...Which is kind of an obvious connection, so I'm going to suggest that you read 97.1 the Ticket's Jeff Riger's take on Franzen's status as something of a clubouse winner over Phil Coke when it comes to Detroit athletes who are "detrimental to their team":

Mule has been a non-factor for quite some time. Now Wings officials will cite that his almost $4 million cap hit is well worth a guy that can consistently score 25 goals. They’ll say he’s worth fixing. They’ll say that if bought out, Franzen would be picked up immediately by somebody else.

They might be right.

But Detroit sure doesn’t agree. Franzen has been a ghost. He constantly pulls a vanishing act and when you’re lucky enough to spot him, he’s usually just floating on the ice, not really doing much. I had a chance to focus on #93 for the last part of the regular season and the two playoff games at the Joe. He very rarely moves with the puck and when he has it, it’s usually passed to him while he’s standing still. Franzen doesn’t create his own scoring chances like he used to. Instead he simply dumps the puck in and goes about his shift.

Where is the passion? Where is the drive? Where is that guy that used to be a scoring threat each and every shift?

Franzen is capable of so much more.

Riger continues...

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Comments

Slumpy's avatar

Yeah for his size he rarely crashes the net and takes a lot of time off during games like Alexei Kovalev used to nickname Loafalev. Maybe he isn’t motivated because he thinks the team is run by a GM that hasn’t done much to improve them since 2008, hmmm.
I can’t hate on The Mule for Kenny being dumb enough to sign him to that horribly long rich contract. I bet he will play better if our GM starts to roster a better balanced team of toughness, decent defenseman and forwards that score a little rather than a team full of punching bags that don’t finish checks and accept being injured by dirtbags all season long. Seabrook and matt cooke, Lucic still playing surprised?
Red Wings scare no one unless they are 100% healthy and we won’t see that come playoff time with this current roster.
Trading Mule for Gerbe or Zuccarello will probably be something we should expect from Kenny eventually.

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 05/03/14 at 03:59 PM ET

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Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 05/03/14 at 03:59 PM ET

Umm…what?

Posted by Diggler from Marquette, MI on 05/03/14 at 04:32 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

If I remember correctly, in game 5 with the score being 2-1, game still within reach Franzen received a pass that either hit off his skate or hit his stick and deflected no more than 5 fee behind him and instead of applying the breaks and reaching back to get the puck he did one of looooong turn arounds for the puck. By that time a Bruin had already picked the puck up and gone the other way. Its *#$%@& maddening watching him play. It really seems like he just doesn’t care at all unless the puck is put directly onto his stick.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 05/03/14 at 04:37 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

Mule is the perfect example of a player that needs an attitude adjustment.
Some players you can smack them on the ass with your stick at practice & say “pick it up!” ... some players need a shock to the system to wake them up ... like being traded.

Mule needs to go ... for his own good.  He’s too comfortable here.  The team around him allows him to slack off and he’s stuck in a rut.

If Holland does things right, this october, the only players on the roster over the age of thirty will be Kronner, Z, and Datsyuk ... and maybe the top 4 Dman we make a trade for.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 05/03/14 at 05:00 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

He very rarely moves with the puck…

The main reason for that is he rarely hang onto it. He’s absolutely horrible at controlling the puck – whether it’s passed to him or he just happens to stumble upon it in his meanderings aound the rink.

I honestly can’t remember a Red Wing of Franzen’s size who has played as “soft” as he does. The “toughest” thing I think he’s ever done was yank the mouthguard out of 5’11” Patrick Kane’s mouth.

Holland may think Franzen’s 25 regular-season goals are important, but he’s missing the big picture, unless of course his only goal is to simply make the playoffs.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/03/14 at 06:26 PM ET

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Didn’t five of his goals come in one game?

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/03/14 at 07:46 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

We keep hearing that he’s told to go to the front of the net.  Go to the net and stand there. Screen. Deflect. Bang home rebounds. 

But he’s afraid of getting hit by the puck, so if, on pure accident, he’s in front of the net, he moves out of the way of the puck or he makes himself skinny, which allows the goalie to see the puck.  If he is able to re-direct, it ends up in the net…ting above the glass.

We all desperately want to see Mule succeed in a Wings jersey.  It’s why we rail on him, because we love him and know just what sort of player he can be.  But he simply isn’t that player for more than 10 games or so a year and it’s simply not worth the collective headache.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 05/03/14 at 08:50 PM ET

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Franzen’s game nosedived after all the injuries and concussions he suffered in recent years. We can have a long discussion about keeping him and not Hossa (if there was really a choice as it’s possible the deal was offered to both, Franzen took it and Hossa wanted to test the free agency anyway), but let’s be honest, at the time of that “decision”, nobody really thought the decision was horrible as Franzen was indeed the best those days. But things have changed and while 25 goals for $4 mil is really good, we have to look at the big picture. Franzen is getting older, has the history of concussions and have been a ghost in the playoffs. More importantly though, his work ethic (I do not want to call him lazy, but I just think the injuries took its toll) is not something I want our young guys to see. For that reason I really hope Holland will be able to trade him (25 goals scorers at $4 mil should have value to some teams) and we will better off with maybe a guy who scores 15-20 goals, but contributes in other areas of the ice and shows up for every game. Let’s say you trade Franzen (maybe for picks or depth defenseman) and sign somebody like Ott. We will lose some goals during the season, but the team will be much better overall imo.

Posted by VPalmer on 05/03/14 at 09:15 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Here’s the thing:  if Mule wasn’t doing what the coaches asked him to, do you think Babcock would just ignore it and not sit him or demote him?

This is where we reach the Franzen/Babcock Paradox.  Babcock plays Franzen.  Franzen is not producing to what many fans believe he should.  They cite his game, his skating, effort, heart, whatever.  Many of those same fans pretty much deify Mike Babcock, who is the guy playing Franzen.  Franzen continued ice-time would indicate Babcock is not exactly displeased with his play.  Maybe the results sometimes, but not the effort or something,

If you think Franzen is loafing, you’re saying Babcock is a bad coach.  If you say Babcock is a good coach, then you run into a problem accusing Franzen of loafing because you’re then saying Babcock is a good coach but lets Franzen get away with it or something.

I don’t know what Babcock has asked of Franzen.  What I do know is that Holland and Babcock seem to not be terribly upset at the guy, maybe they have lower or just different expectations than many fans.

The fact is…. if you’r eon the Lazy Franzen bandwagon right now, you can’t also I guess be on the Babcock Is Awesome bandwagon, because the two are completely incompatible.  And maybe the case isn’t as black and white as some would have others believe.

Posted by Primis on 05/03/14 at 10:36 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Here’s the thing:  if Mule wasn’t doing what the coaches asked him to, do you think Babcock would just ignore it and not sit him or demote him?

Posted by Primis

To give you a straight answer: Yes, yes I do. Not because Babcock is an idiot. But because he doesn’t really have any choice other than to play him. Franzen is the biggest body among the forwards and there’s always a chance that he might score five goals in ay given game.

On a team with more healthy bodies, especially big bodies, Babcock might sit him for a few games to see if it motivates him. But that isn’t the situation Bab’s has faced this year or last. So he plays him because he has to.

The fact is…. if you’r eon the Lazy Franzen bandwagon right now, you can’t also I guess be on the Babcock Is Awesome bandwagon, because the two are completely incompatible.

Well, then I guess I’m safe because I’m on the “Franzen Sucks” and the “Babcock Can Do Better” bandwagon. smile

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/03/14 at 11:57 PM ET

bleep bloop's avatar

I think there are issues with Babcock—his infuriating tendency to keep doing things that don’t work and periodically break things that do—but how much of the other stuff is Babcock versus the team leaders setting a bad example (“be patient” doesn’t work when you are down by two goals and can’t get the puck out of your zone)? And who is a better coach?

Posted by bleep bloop on 05/04/14 at 12:58 AM ET

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When you eventually run into someone who will be honest about their opinion on Franzen, when that person is one of the loopy-doops in the ‘get him out of here’ bandwagon, you’ll get something along the lines of ‘I expect him to score 30+ a year’, or the ‘he doesn’t try hard enough’ line.  Stuff like that.

Those people are being silly.  Is Franzen inconsistent?  Yes.  Does he have a ‘high motor’?  No.  Are there flaws in his game?  Obviously.

Those are all reasons why he’s signed for less than 4 mil a year against the cap.  If he was consistent and/or had a high motor and/or had fewer flaws to his game he wouldn’t be a 4 million dollar cap forward, he’d be a 6+ million dollar cap forward.  On a much deeper offensive team Pat Sharp scores at about the same level points per minute as Franzen does, but makes 6.  Generally speaking, guys who score 30+ and have some size and play ‘hard’ make 6+, at least if they’ve hit FA at some point.

The last 4 years Franzen has 87 goals in 248 regular season games, along with 7 in 32 playoff games.  This other guy has 109 in 266, played ~15% more IT/g (which brings the usage numbers within 5% total), and has 2 goals in 24 playoff games.  That guy?  Rick Nash.  He makes 7.8.

That is the reality of cost vs. performance so many of the people who castigate his production (or his on-ice demeanor) fail to even consider, much less give proper weight… but that never stops them from, for example, wanting to sign David Clarkson for 4+ mil a year because he had one big out-of-his-ass goalscoring season.

No, you don’t want a team of Franzen’s.  You don’t want a Franzen to be your Captain, or your locker room leader.  You need gritty/greasy forwards too, you need playmakers too, you need leaders too, you need guys who are at 100mph all the time too, but if you think teams, especially teams who struggle to score anyway should get rid of Franzen’s because they don’t overperform their contracts by 33% and play like 6 mil guys, you are a crazy person.  Certifiable.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 05/04/14 at 09:01 AM ET

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Posted by HackeyinHD on 05/04/14 at 09:01 AM ET

I seem to recall you boasting 30 goal potential from Sammy at the beginning of this season. How many times did he reach that level during his career? Once. What was his career actually like? Up and down with lots of injuries and a bad attitude. How was his last two years in Detroit? According to you he sucked but only after his two years were up. Are you going to turn on Franzen in the same manner? I guess we will see.

You are right that Franzen is paid his worth in goals. when he signed his contract he was a value. He had just completed his first and only season of 30 or more goals. Compared to Hossa’s 40 goals at $7 million ten less goals at $3.000001 million less is a steal. Who pays that much more for only 10 goals? A team that has won the Stanley cup twice in you chosen time frame.

Comparing him to Patrick Sharp is not comparing similar players. Sharp is consistent. He reaches 30 or more goals and plays in 70 or more games per season than Franzen does. His consistency brings value. His health brings added value. His contract reflects that. Given the choice between the two players and their contracts, who wouldn’t pick Sharp? You. Who would other people choose? I’d wager on Sharp.

We all know what goals bring. Both players can score. No doubt. Sharp is better at it. No doubt. When it comes to consistency it is not so much reflected in a players stats as it is in who he plays with. Those other players benefit from knowing who lines up next to them and what they can expect from them. Having Franzen miss a bunch of games each season hurts his teammates.

The Nash comparison blows the roof of insanity. In your time frame, Nash has been in the playoffs just two seasons. Before that he was in the playoffs one time. Franzen has gone to the playoffs his entire career. He knows what that pressure is like. Nash, understandably, is still getting his playoff skates under him in a high pressure city. He is starting to show up this season with four points in eight playoff games. More importantly, his team moved on to the second round.

This brings us to the Clarkson comparison. The only thing I’d like to point out is that Franzen was signed to his $4, errrr, $3.999999 million contract after his one and only 30 goal season.

For all your accusations of people being whacky regarding their position on Franzen you are doing a better job of defining certifiably crazy then they are. It seems this is just your track record for misconstruing a players actual value on the redwings. Sammy. Nyquist. Howard. Now Franzen. Next up? Mzarek? I hope not.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/04/14 at 12:00 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Comparing him to Patrick Sharp is not comparing similar players. Sharp is consistent. He reaches 30 or more goals and plays in 70 or more games per season than Franzen does. His consistency brings value. His health brings added value. His contract reflects that. Given the choice between the two players and their contracts, who wouldn’t pick Sharp? You. Who would other people choose? I’d wager on Sharp.

The comparison isn’t about who the better player is; the comparison is what you expect from each based on their contracts. Patrick Sharp is better than Johan Franzen. Patrick Sharp’s cap hit is also higher than the combined cap hits of Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.  You make that trade?

Nash, understandably, is still getting his playoff skates under him in a high pressure city. He is starting to show up this season with four points in eight playoff games. More importantly, his team moved on to the second round.

Marc-Andre Fleury had a lower GAA than Semyon Varlamov this and his team moved onto the second round where Varlamov’s team didn’t.  Is that also to the credit of the one and the blame of the other?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 05/04/14 at 12:20 PM ET

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The comparison isn’t about who the better player is..

I didn’t. I’m sorry that it looks that way to you.

the comparison is what you expect from each based on their contracts.

That’s what I am saying. Sharp gives a lot more thus is expected to give more. He is paid a lot more. It’s better to compare Franzen to someone more like him. Comparing extremes only results in throwing out the data.

You make that trade?

Assuming I’m a wings’ fan, hell no. Nyquist should be playing way above his pay grade right now to earn/keep his spot on the team. Also, he is playing for a bigger contract. Though that might balance out Franzen’s long term contract….

When I am a Hawks’ fan, I’d think about it. I believe that Detroit would have to carry some of Franzen’s long term contract (I know you understand that part better than I do) which actually makes his value increase because the hawks are paying less for him in cap space - assuming he can reach his 25 goals. Add Nyquist’s potential to that and, hmmm, that might be a good trade. If Nyquist scores 20 goals then the Hawks have just added 10 goals to that amount of money. The only problem is who’s spot is Nyquist taking on the roster? What impacts does that have?

Is that also to the credit of the one and the blame of the other?

Right now, I expect Franzen to produce in the off season. He’s been there. He knows what it takes. Just the same as I would expect Fleury to make it to the second round before Varlamov. Is Nash directly contributing to NY’s success. Yes and no. Yes, it takes a team to win, but there is not doubt that we have seen players, from time to time, carry their team further in the playoffs than imaginable. It just happens less often when they are not accustom to that specific pressure. That is why I expect more from Franzen, who has proven himself in the playoffs than I would from Nash (this season). In my opinion, Nash is paid because of tickets & merch. and his potential to help the team once they get to the playoffs. If he fails people will look at him like Fleury, but their expectations don’t change. If he succeeds then people will expect him to be great ever season during the playoffs - hello Franzen. It’s human nature. The way I am trying to look at these comparisons isn’t in a singular, black & white terms because I’m not trying to force people to see my point of view. There’s so much more going on then one or two statistical values.

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 05/05/14 at 04:48 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.